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In Greek mythology, Cassandra was one of the princesses of Troy, daughter of Priam and Hecuba. According to the Myth, Cassandra was astonishingly beautiful and blessed with the gift of foreseeing the future. Her curse was that no one believed her, a fact that weighed heavily on the destruction of Troy during the Trojan War.
The Myth of Cassandra
There are several different versions explaining the gift and curse of Cassandra; the most popular one is that God Apollo fell in love with her and granted her with the gift of prophecy. When Cassandra denied the God and his advances, he placed a curse on her, so that no one would believe her words or her predictions. He gave her a gift that would bring frustration and despair to her.
In the tragedy Agamemnon, Cassandra appears to suggest the God to become hic consort but then breaks her promise, causing his wrath. Thus, Apollo left her the gift of prophecy but cursed her so that no one could or would believe her.
According to the second version, Cassandra went to the Temple of Apollo in Troy and his little Temple Snakes licked her ears, allowing her to listen to the future. This theme is not unknown in Greek Mythology, as the snakes of Apollo have appeared in different myths and versions, allowing people to foresee the future and understand the language of animals.
Cassandra and Troy
Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy by the Greeks; when the Trojans found the big wooden horse outside the gates of their city Cassandra told them that Greeks will destroy them if they bring the horse in the city. The historical facts are not clear but the famous phrase “Beware of Danaos (Greeks) bearing gifts” belongs to her, although there are also different versions about this phrase as well, since it was stated by different persons in tragedy “Ajax” and Virgil’s “Aeneid”. No one in Troy believed her, and the horse was admitted in the city, with the known results for Troy.
When Troy fell to the Greeks, Cassandra tried to find a shelter in Athena’s Temple, but she was brutally abducted by Ajax and was brought to Agamemnon as a concubine. Cassandra died in Mycenae, murdered along with Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.
The Cassandra Syndrome
Based on the myth of Cassandra there is a modern syndrome and metaphor recognized by experts; the Cassandra syndrome or complex, which is applied in cases of valid alarms which are disbelieved. The syndrome applies mostly in psychology and politics or science, and it was named by the French Philosopher Gaston Bachelard in 1949.